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OTHER ITA SITES:
Basic Math Skills Neglected In Schools
Quick! What is 9 x 12? If you learned it like I did, without even thinking, the number 108 pops into your head. In fact, whenever you hear nine and twelve mentioned together, two numbers automatically come to mind—21 and 108. The first is the sum of the numbers mentioned, and the last is their product. Because of the commutative properties of addition and multiplication, it does not matter in which order they appear; the sum, and the product will always be the same. Not so for subtraction and division, but that’s another story.
Nowadays, math is taught differently. Memorization of such facts is not encouraged, and in some cases, arriving at the correct answer isn’t even important, but high school graduates need solid math skills, whether headed to college, or to work, according to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.
Why have teaching methods changed? I have my theories, and most of them center around the sales of text books to schools. When you teach facts—the very definition of which is always true; unchangeable—you need not buy new textbooks very often.
New math notwithstanding, memorization is still best when it comes to basic arithmetic skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of small numbers. And it’s that instantaneous knowledge of the interaction between small numbers that enables us to tackle the larger, more complex ones. Without command of the times tables, attempting to solve number problems will only lead students to discouragement, poor performance, and sometimes drop out, and even failure.
How many times in a day do we use these skills in real life? You balance your checkbook, measure a room, double a recipe, figure your miles per gallon, calculate cost comparisons while shopping, and more. Hot dogs come in packages of ten, and buns are sold in eight-packs. How do you deal with that to prevent someone from eating a bunless wiener? That may be funny, but the issue is serious.
Study after study shows the US lagging behind other countries in graduating scientists and engineers.
Basic arithmetic facts, such as sum and product number pairs are easily mastered by young children, and when they instinctively know the correct answers, they are rewarded with instant gratification, a sense of accomplishment, and the desire to continue learning. These are excellent qualities to foster in a child. They set the tone for future learning and future success.
A junior high science, robotics, and rocketry teacher at a Charter School in Arizona saw his students struggling with the math portion of his classes, the necessary calculations needed to determine rocket payload and trajectory, and traced the root of this problem to their lack of the basic math skills required. Determined to help these students, who otherwise had a bright future in a scientific field, he devised an audio CD to teach them the multiplication tables that they had not been taught, and soon, they were performing as expected in the science class.
Children who take a home-study course will find themselves far ahead of their classmates who may be struggling with math in school because they lack the proper foundation. And older students who missed gaining this knowledge at the elementary level will find it easier to solve more advanced math problems after using an additional tutorial program.
The news often reports how poorly American students perform in math and science when compared to other industrialized and emerging nations, proving that despite the sizeable cost we pay for education, our schools are not getting the job done. Parents must become involved and seek out supplementary tools if they expect their children to learn, and the areas most at risk are math, science, history, and critical thinking skills.
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